Monday, March 20, 2006

Janet Jackson’s Breast vs Jack Abramoff’s Bust

It says something loud and clear about our national priorities that we’ve cultivated (and even celebrated) a culture of greed, while narrowing our eyes to pinpoints over lust.


JanetjacksonsuperbowlWe are at one and the same time a nation that demands CBS be fined for having (however briefly) exposed Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show and the world’s largest consumer of pornography.


Say what you like about the Janet flap, but pornographic it was not. And all of this would be ancient news, were it not for the recent smutsmanship awards, hosted by the FCC and its shiny new Chairman.


Whatever definitions they have over at the Federal Communications Commission, the dictionary says ‘pornography’ is ‘creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.’ Left entirely to debate among others in FCC-land, is the question, what in the world is wrong with that?


Thus are we shamed by our nakedness and famed by our greediness.


The United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics lists an address and telephone number on its web page, but makes not even vague suggestions about how to complain concerning ethical lapses among the honorable 100.


Ditto the House of Representatives. If you think Jack Abramoff’s collusion with elected officials and their staffs, had ‘no legislative value other than to stimulate rapacious financial desire,’ you’re snookered when looking for a venue to register your complaint of 'glomography'  (my coining of the word 'glom,' to take by theft).


The FCC, on the other hand, should you Google ‘FCC complaint,’ provides a cornucopia of ready access. Teams of willing eyes and ears bent in the direction of your call, letter, e-mail, snail-mail or pony express complaint. One presumes (but the FCC does not guarantee) these rapid-response teams are not handling your grievance from India.


FcckevinmartinNaked breasts and naked greed, the untold story of heartbreak and heartburn.


Using complaint as criteria, Republican FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin (39 and looking 17) claims hundreds of thousands complain about material of a sexual or excretory nature on television. Nasty business, that having sex or taking a dump. Hundreds of thousands are against it. Possibly millions, but only hundreds of thousands are literate enough to fill out the FCC form.


Just sign with an X for X-rated.


The naked greed side of the equation remains X. As you will remember from high school algebra, X is an unknown. But it seems we who find offense in glomography are less than ten. Six or eight editorial columnists, myself and Eliot Spitzer. I don't know why that is. The religious right can't stand the human body, but don't seem much offended by thievery.


EliotspitzerThat the greed factor within our elected government has us sailing over the cliff of financial disaster, institutional breakdown and international bankruptcy, is of little interest. I understand that, it's very foggy stuff.


  • Financial disaster is complex. You always knew in your heart of hearts that your no-good brother-in-law would go broke. He has, and he’s taken ten thousand of your savings with him. Your wife no longer speaks to either of you, which seems a bit harsh, but the government will have to muddle through without your personal intervention. You've had it with financial disaster.

  • Institutional breakdown is nothing more than a couple of reasonably complicated words that, when combined, become entirely opaque. Institutions themselves are complex and, when they breakdown, no one better look your way to sweep up the nuts and bolts.

  • International bankruptcy wouldn’t happen to us if we stayed the hell home like we should and didn’t loan every Tom, Dick and Harry our money. Or is it the other way around, I forget?

But Janet Jackson's breast is understandable. Adorable even, we talked about it for months, but only after the kids had been hustled off to bed. Actually, if you recall that far back, you’d gone to take a quick whiz (a prohibited, but entirely private excretory event) and missed the briefly exposed breast.


DickgrassoBut thank god and re-runs, like the Columbia space shuttle disaster, Janet’s breast just kept being replayed and replayed and replayed. So, what 99% of the world missed was brought front and center (because of our weird love-hate relationship to breasts) and got CBS whacked with a $550,000 fine.


Eliot Spitzer (and I) think that Dick Grasso getting $139 million in severance pay for being canned at the New York Stock Exchange is closer to pornographic than anything Michael's sister could or ever would do.


But hey, that’s just us, couple lusty old guys who don't much like crooks.
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